Why do some companies get more out of their data and some do not? Why do some companies have a data culture and some do not? The answer lies in if they have three fundamental questions answered or not. Do you know the fundamental drivers of your business? Do you understand what drives growth for your business? Is your business fueled by acquisition or engagement, or both? Do you understand your customers? And is the analytics within your company helping answer any of these questions for you?

In my experience, analytics, machine learning, and AI are sometimes an “afterthought” function rather than a core function of decision-making. There is often a disconnect between what models or dashboard an analyst is building and where the business is going. However, when companies and departments align the two, they turn the business onto its head and give competitors a run for their money.

So the question is how to go about leveraging analytics and AI towards better business decisions.

The Answers: The Three Pillar Analytics Approach

Engage across and through your organization to fully understand and build the three pillars of the analytics approach, which are:

  • Measurement Framework to answer “How am I doing?
  • Portfolio Analysis to answer “What drives my business?
  • Customer Analysis to answer “Who are your customers and what are their needs?


To have Data and AI drive business success, these pillars should be worked on together, going from 20,000ft view level of gross intelligence across the three pillars and drilling down iteratively to derive maximum benefit from them; each pillar depends on the other two to provide the most useful insights into your business.

Building Pillar I: Measurement Framework for AI Strategy

The measurement framework gives you a way to measure how the business is doing. What are the current strategic goals and priorities, and what key metrics (KPI) do you use to measure success or failure towards those goals? Can you align these metrics with your stated priorities, goals, and strategies? You can use the Top-down financial mapping or balanced scorecard method to build the measurement framework.

Align projects to measurement framework/KPI’s

The measurement framework will establish a sound and repeatable steps for evaluating your company’s performance, both about its competitors and its own stated goals. Once you’ve created the measurement framework, you can now choose the right projects (analytics or otherwise), which will likely move the KPIs.

Building Pillar II: Portfolio Analysis

The portfolio analysis gives you the business dynamics and where the growth is coming from, and where to focus. This analysis would give you what is the strengths and weaknesses of your company in the marketplace. A careful  P&L with an eye for analytics can help establish its strengths and weaknesses, enabling the company to focus on the strength and improving or eliminating the weaknesses. By understanding the interaction between the product and the marketplace and the business dynamics of growth, profitability, customer satisfaction, popularity, etc., the greatest growth potential and danger are found.

Leverage insights and drive decisions using portfolio analysis

Once you understand your portfolio, you will use analytics to draw insights on risk and opportunities and drive projects accordingly, saving costs and helping grow. For example, a company might have 8 products and based on doing a portfolio analysis. We find out that Product B is high growth and high-profit segment, but historically, the business has been focused on Product A, which is low growth and comparatively lower profit. Then the projects are aligned towards Product B.

Building Pillar III: Customer Analysis

Another major criterion to consider while selecting projects is the customer spectrum of things. Customer Analysis answers questions like

  • Who are my customers/ Demographics – What is my customer demographic? Where are they located? How many are Male/Female? What is the average age? What is the average family size of customers? What percentage of them are married?  The relevant demographic metrics may differ by different products/services, which would benefit the selection and execution of projects.
  • What do they want/need – What do my customers need? Are there opportunities to upsell? Would they be interested in care-based beauty products or bold beauty products?
  • How do they behave/Interactions – You will find different customers are interacting with the product differently. If you are a music app company – Some customers may be trying new songs, some might be sticking to a set playlist, some might prefer downloading the songs, and some like to play them over the internet.

As you think of more and more categories, you will find more and more insightful nuggets, and soon you would have N X N metrics with a lot of information. However, products cannot be designed for all these segments. The solution to this is  Advanced analytics techniques like K-means clustering; it is used to get to 6-7 most important segments within the customer base. You could add the Voice of customer, Social media feedback to this mix to get to the customers’ real needs across the newly found segments.

Identify focus areas using customer analysis.

Once customer segments are established, 2X2’s graphs can be used to identify focus areas and customize offering, messaging, and marketing for the top customers.


As you build on the three pillars discussed above, you would build an Analytics agenda for your company, which would help work on projects that have greater ROI (Return on Investment). It would also give you measures on interacting with each customer and what messaging should be used for them. Furthermore, this would give employees a clear understanding of how their driver metric affects the top KPIs that the executives care about.

A more detailed whitepaper on laying out an Analytics agenda can be found here.